Frustration and pride swirl as Houston Dynamo finally find their limit

SEATTLE—A mixture of frustration and pride spread throughout the Houston Dynamo locker room after Thursday night’s 3-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders in Leg 2 of their Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Championship series. Frustration with the 5-0 aggregate loss, pride in simply having reached the penultimate round for the first time since 2013 – and doing so in head coach Wilmer Cabrera’s first season.

“No one expected us to get this far but us,” said veteran defender DaMarcus Beasley. “It still leaves a bad taste in your mouth. We were really confident coming into this series, especially how we’ve been at home. The series was over at home – we gave up two goals, we didn’t do the little things right. It made for a difficult night.”

Already shorthanded by suspensions to dynamic attacker Alberth Elis (yellow card accumulation) and defender Jalil Anibaba (red card), the team sheet grew sparser still when it was announced that forward Romell Quioto would miss the game with an illness and center back Philippe Senderos, who had trained all week, would not play due to a hamstring strain.

That was compounded when playmaker Tomas Martinez drew a red card in the 66th minute for his involvement in a scuffle with Sounders midfielder Jordy Delem.

As Houston's depleted squad struggled to match Seattle's active offense, Cabrera aimed the blame directly toward the mirror.

“We had some difficulties, but no excuses,” Cabrera said. “We also have to have better discipline in terms of keeping 11 players on the field. That’s not acceptable by Tomas to get a red card. It was a soft red card that we took in Houston [by Anibaba] that caused us a lot of problems. It is difficult against Seattle with 11 players, [and] even more complicated with 10.”

Cabrera explained that absent his speediest options, he had hoped to switch to a high-possession style. Ultimately, though, the timing of Seattle’s goals prevented the Dynamo from establishing any rhythm.

Goalkeeper Joe Willis, who ably (and unexpectedly) replaced Tyler Deric down the stretch, couldn't yet shake the season free of the moment.

“It’s been a fun season, so for it to end like this is pretty disappointing,” Willis said. “I think when we take a moment to reflect on the season we’ll be proud of ourselves, but right now, it’s tough to swallow.”